Fothergill sign

Last revised by Dr Jeremy Jones on 14 Jul 2021

The Fothergill sign describes an examination finding used to distinguish an abdominal wall mass from one arising in the abdomen itself.

The sign is said to be present if a mass remains palpable and becomes fixed when the rectus muscles are contracted, such as when the patient lifts their head from a pillow. Such a mass is often found to be a rectus sheath hematoma 1

History and etymology

The sign was described by William Edward Fothergill (1865–1926), then Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Manchester, UK, in an article in the British Medical Journal in 1926 2.

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Rectus sheath hematoma
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